PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION JUDICIAL EVALUATION COMMISSION 2015 SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE RATINGS

Judge Anne E. Covey
Rating: Not Recommended

Shortly after being admitted to the bar, the Candidate entered the private practice of law, first as an associate and then as a partner, spending most of this part of her career at two different New Jersey law firms. In 1996, she opened her own law office in Lambertville, New Jersey. During the years of her private practice, the Candidate represented corporations in labor and employment matters. From 2002 until 2011, she was a member of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. In 2011, she was elected as a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Her opinions as a member of the Commonwealth Court have been well written, clear and concise. In connection with her 2011 campaign for Commonwealth Court, the candidate signed a pledge to not engage in false or misleading campaign advertising. The commission viewed one of her campaign advertisements, which aired in early November of 2011, and concluded she violated her pledge. Moreover, when questioned about the matter, in the Commission's opinion, she was not forthright in her responses. Because of violations of her 2011 campaign advertising pledge, and her recent failure to answer the Commission's questions about her advertisement in an honest and straightforward manner, the Commission cannot recommend her candidacy for the Supreme Court.

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Judge Christine L. Donohue
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has been a judge on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania since January 2008. Prior to her tenure on the court, she was a practicing attorney with extensive civil trial and appellate court experience. She demonstrates a wealth of knowledge in a variety of areas, including civil, domestic relations, criminal and constitutional matters. The Candidate's reputation among her colleagues is one of intelligence, conscientiousness and objectivity, and she is known for possessing high ethical standards. Her opinions and legal writings are well-reasoned. She has demonstrated her commitment to legal and judicial ethics as a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline. She also has extensive community involvement and has taught courses for both professional and lay audiences. Because of her broad experience as a practicing attorney, proven record of judicial leadership and ethics and dedication to the legal profession, the Commission is confident that the Candidate would serve with distinction as a Supreme Court justice and highly recommends her candidacy.

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Judge Kevin M. Dougherty
Rating: Recommended

Before being appointed to the trial bench, the Candidate worked as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and in private practice as a criminal and civil litigator. He was appointed by the governor in 2001 to fill an unexpired term on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. He was then elected to a 10-year term in 2001 and retained in 2011. He has been appointed to serve as chair of the administrative governing board in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and administrative judge of the trial division. He had served previously as administrative judge of the family division and supervising judge of the juvenile branch. In these roles, he implemented innovative solutions to problems in the juvenile dependency and delinquency areas. He has served on statewide commissions studying juvenile justice issues and statewide committees recommending domestic relations and juvenile court procedural rules. He is a strong administrator. Considered fair, open-minded, courteous and a good listener, he also is a hard worker and a consensus builder. Based on his judicial and administrative experience and his work ethic, judicial temperament and integrity, the Commission recommends the Candidate to serve on the Supreme Court.

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Judge Michael A. George
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate serves as the president judge on the Adams County Court of Common Pleas. He was elected to the court in 1999 and has presided over a variety of cases, including criminal, civil and family matters. Prior to his tenure on the court, the Candidate served as the Adams County District Attorney for five years. The Candidate is reported to possess a calm, professional and fair judicial demeanor and has a reputation as an excellent administrator. His legal opinions and rulings are regarded as well reasoned, and he has demonstrated his commitment to the legal profession by participating in various bar association programs. The Commission believes that the Candidate would perform satisfactorily as a justice on the Supreme Court and recommends his candidacy.

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Judge Judith F. Olson
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate is a keen legal thinker and the author of well-reasoned and well-written opinions. The Candidate started her legal career as a highly-regarded legal scholar and a well-organized litigator handling complex civil litigation. The Candidate practiced in state and federal courts. She ascended to the bench first as a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. After serving nearly a year as a trial court judge, she began her service as a judge in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, where she has served since 2010. The Candidate is consistently assessed as having a high level of integrity and a congenial, courteous and professional demeanor, which has been praised by colleagues, advocates and court staff. As a serving Superior Court judge, the Candidate has demonstrated her excellent administrative skills, which are evidenced by her ability to issue more than 300 opinions a year with other Superior Court panelists. The Candidate has been involved in bar association functions, community activities promoting education and mentoring, nonprofit organizations supporting health care initiatives, institutions of higher education and church organizations. The Commission is confident the Candidate meets the rigorous standards required to receive the rating of highly recommended for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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Judge Paul P. Panepinto
Rating: Recommended

The Candidate is an experienced jurist with more than two decades of service on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. During his tenure on the bench, the Candidate worked to develop specialty courts and managed complex litigation matters. The Candidate is knowledgeable about the law and procedure. The Candidate's reputation among litigants and counsel is generally positive. The Candidate engages in community service by teaching at local institutions of higher education. The Commission believes the Candidate can meet the intellectual demands of a Supreme Court justice and therefore recommends his candidacy.

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Judge David N. Wecht
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Candidate has consistently shown his affinity for the law since the beginning of his legal career as a hardworking and prolific lawyer, and, more recently, as a distinguished member of the judiciary for the last 12 years. While serving as a common pleas court judge in Allegheny County, he created the innovative “One Family, One Judge” program that sought and achieved consistency in matters before the family court division. The Candidate has presided over many cases in the civil division of the common pleas court as well. The Candidate ascended to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2011, where he further honed his skills as a well-respected and thoughtful jurist. His opinions during his tenure on both courts have been well reasoned, thorough and cogent, demonstrating a deep understanding of the often-complex legal issues involved and providing clear guidance on future matters to the courts, attorneys and litigants. His forward-thinking approach to the law, unquestioned legal ability, integrity and judicial temperament would serve him well, and the Commission highly recommends him for a seat on the Supreme Court.

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